Mastering when to use por vs para correctly can be one of the hardest things in learning Spanish.
You may have spent hours and hours trying to learn the rules and doing exercises, but are still completely confused.
Even if you’ve memorized the rules, you most likely stumble in real life conversations – either pausing with an awkward silence as you run through the rules in your head, or just guessing and it getting wrong half the time.
It’s not your fault.
The problem is that the way por and para is usually taught is just wrong.
It goes against how our brains work and against how people actually learn languages.
Here’s how it’s taught traditionally:
- Your teacher explains all the rules for por and para
There are fifteen different rules to memorize (*gulp*), and many of them make no sense to an English speaker.
You’re overwhelmed and confused.
- Then your teacher gives you exercises where you have to fill in the correct word – por or para – in a bunch of sentences
You spend quite a while on each task, reading through all the rules over and over again to try to pick the correct one for the current sentence.
You feel confused most of the time.
You get overwhelmed and exhausted.
You never get a ‘feel’ for when to actually use por and para, so you can’t use them properly in real conversations.
It really sucks.
And worse… it just doesn’t work.
There is a better way.
First, there’s a quick hack that gets you most of the rules really easily.
Most of the rules can be grouped into contrasting pairs. For example “por is along, para is towards“
I’m walking along the river towards the university
Estoy caminando por el río para la universidad
Learning the contrasting pairs together makes it really easy. For example, when you’re talking about traveling, you quickly ‘get’ when to use por or para. “Por is along, and para is towards.”
This saves a ton of time and brain melt. It matches how people learn naturally.
This simple hack gets you ten of the rules under your belt really easily.
And these ten are the most common and most important rules.
Most of the remaining five rules are less common and so much less important.
Honestly, learning them is optional.
If you choose to learn the remaining five, the best way is to learn them is one at a time – not all at once.
That way, you never get confused and overwhelmed.
In fact, learning to use por and para this way is so easy that you might get bored.
But trust us, boredom that leads to effective learning is way better than overwhelm that just leaves you confused and exhausted.
Here’s the complete lesson: Por vs para: The complete guide, made easy.
Check out our series of Complete Spanish Grammar articles – everything you’ll ever need to know about Spanish grammar.
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